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Peering ahead toward the ‘fiscal cliff’

President Obama today announced he has invited congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle to come to the White House next week to discuss how to handle the tax increases and spending cuts now scheduled to take effect automatically in January.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, responded:

John Boehner“The year 2013 should be the year we begin to solve our country’s debt problem through entitlement reform and a new tax code with fewer loopholes and lower rates. The president has an historic opportunity to lead both parties in forging an agreement that averts the fiscal cliff in a manner that ensures 2013 will be that year.

“The increased tax rates that would be allowed under the Senate-passed bill are part of the fiscal cliff that economists are warning us to avoid. Those increased tax rates will destroy jobs in America by hurting small businesses across the country. Republicans are eager to get to work on an agreement that averts the entire fiscal cliff. The House has passed legislation to accomplish this vital goal. We look forward to joining the president next week and working to forge an agreement that will do the same.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, responded:

Nancy Pelosi “President Obama is exactly right: the American people voted on Tuesday for certainty for our economy and middle class families. Speaker Boehner and House Republicans can provide that certainty, and establish a sound basis for negotiations on comprehensive deficit reduction package, by taking up the Senate-passed bill to extend the middle income tax cuts. President Obama has his signing pen ready, and I am certain that, given the opportunity, Democrats in the House will vote to send the middle income tax cut to the President next week.

“President Obama reiterated today that we must work toward compromise to address our nation’s deficit, and we stand firmly on the side of a balanced approach. President Obama took this issue of tax fairness to the American people with great clarity, and the American people agreed with him. The wealthiest Americans must pay their fair share.

“The tax proposal that the President restated today is the right way to move forward, enabling us to start the conversation about a responsible, long-term deficit reduction plan. The President was clear in the campaign. The American people have spoken. Let’s sit down and get the job done. Every day we delay, adds to the uncertainty of the middle class. Let’s pass the Senate bill now and show the American people that people of goodwill can get the job done. We must.”

Posted on Friday, November 9th, 2012
Under: Barack Obama, John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, taxes, U.S. House | 7 Comments »

Lawmakers boycott contempt vote on Holder

The House voted 255-67 today to hold U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for allegedly stonewalling over documents relating to the probe of the Fast and Furious “gunwalking” operation on the U.S.-Mexico border.

But more than 100 Democrats left the House floor to boycott the vote, including several Bay Area lawmakers: Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Pete Stark, D-Fremont; Mike Honda, D-San Jose; Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma; John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove; and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco.

Barbara Lee (Dec-2010)“I cannot and will not participate in this hyper-partisan and purely political vote today to hold Attorney General in contempt of Congress,” Lee said in a news release.

“Contempt power should be used sparingly, carefully and only in the most egregious situations. The Attorney General has gone above and beyond in his response to request for information on “Fast and Furious”, an unfortunate operation that began under the Bush Administration and, in fact, was terminated by Attorney General Holder,” she said. “This contempt vote is unprecedented, unwarranted and entirely unnecessary. Gandhi once said that ‘Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as cooperation with good.’ That is why I am standing with so many of my colleagues in refusing to participate in this shameful Republican political stunt.”

Reps. George Miller, D-Martinez; Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton; Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough; Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; and Mike Thompson, D-Napa remained on the floor to cast votes against the resolution.

Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called for the vote with this statement:

John Boehner“It’s important for the American people to know how we got here and to know the facts of this case. The Congress asked the Department of Justice for the facts related to Fast and Furious and the events that led to the death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. The Department of Justice did not provide the facts and the information that we requested. Instead, the information came from people outside the Department, people who wanted to do the right thing. In addition to not providing the information, the Administration admitted to misleading Congress, actually retracting a letter it had sent 10 months earlier.

“I think all the Members understand this is a very serious matter. The Terry family wants to know how this happened and they have every right to have their answers. The House needs to know how this happened, and it is our constitutional duty to find out. So the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee issued a lawful and narrowly tailored subpoena. We’ve been patient, giving the Justice Department every opportunity to comply, so that we can get to the bottom of this for the Terry family. We’ve shown more than enough good faith, but the White House has chosen to invoke executive privilege. That leaves us no other options. The only recourse left for the House is to continue seeking the truth and to hold Attorney General in contempt of Congress.

“Now I don’t take this matter lightly, and I frankly hoped it would never come to this. The House’s focus is on jobs and on the economy. But no Justice Department is above the law and no Justice Department is above the Constitution, which each of us has sworn an oath to uphold. So I ask the Members of this body to come together and to support this resolution so that we can seek the answers that the Terry family and the American people deserve.”

After the vote, Holder issued a statement which is presented in its entirety after the jump…
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Posted on Thursday, June 28th, 2012
Under: Anna Eshoo, Attorney General, Barbara Lee, George Miller, Jackie Speier, Jerry McNerney, John Boehner, John Garamendi, Law enforcement, Lynn Woolsey, Mike Honda, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, Obama presidency, Pete Stark, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | 17 Comments »

Reactions to the SCOTUS health care reform ruling

Your lawmakers are sounding off on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Affordable Care Act as constitutional.

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

Barbara Boxer “The Supreme Court’s ruling is a victory for America’s families, who deserve affordable health care.
“The decision is great news for the millions of Californians who have already seen the benefits of this law – including the six million who now have access to free preventive health services, 355,000 young adults who now have coverage on their parents’ health plans and 320,000 seniors who have received help in paying for their prescription drugs.
“Now Americans will have the certainty of knowing they won’t be denied coverage because of a preexisting condition. Women won’t be charged a higher premium because of their gender. And families struggling with serious illnesses will not face lifetime limits on coverage.
“We will continue to fight Republican efforts to repeal these important health benefits while we work to make sure every American has access to quality, affordable health care.”

From U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah:

Orrin Hatch“The American people know that this law violates our deepest constitutional principles of limited government, despite the Supreme Court’s ruling today. President Obama’s $2.6 trillion health spending law is an unprecedented power grab by this White House that will increase health care costs, add to our skyrocketing national debt, and put Washington bureaucrats in between patients and their doctors. This ruling doesn’t change the fact that a majority of the people of Utah and across America want this law repealed. The American people will have the last word at the ballot box this November. But let me be absolutely clear, I will continue the fight to repeal this assault on individual liberty and limited government.”

From U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.:

Dianne Feinstein “This is an historic day. The Supreme Court today upheld the health care reform law passed by Congress in 2010, meaning Californians can be confident that access to affordable health insurance is finally a reality.

“I believe the health care reform law—including the individual mandate and the insurance exchanges designed to create large purchasing pools to make coverage more affordable—is critical to reducing the number of Americans who go without health insurance. The state exchanges will be up and running in 2014, and I am gratified they will have an opportunity to help Californians and drive down soaring health care costs.

“Because of today’s decision, California will receive an estimated $14.5 billion in federal funds designated to increase insurance coverage—including an estimated $5.5 billion annually to help low and middle-income residents purchase insurance in the exchanges and an estimated $9 billion a year to insure newly eligible Medi-Cal beneficiaries. **

“Many positive benefits of the law have already gone into effect including provisions that allow children to stay on their parent’s health insurance plan until age 26, prohibit insurance companies from denying children health insurance based on a pre-existing condition and prohibit insurance companies from canceling coverage because of an illness such as breast cancer. Millions of Americans will continue to benefit from these insurance reforms.

“I realize that passage of health care reform was extremely controversial. But we cannot forget that insuring fellow Americans and driving down the exploding cost of health care spending in this country is a national emergency. Even with this favorable decision from the court, our work reforming the insurance market and expanding access to health care continues.”

From House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio:

John Boehner “The president’s health care law is hurting our economy by driving up health costs and making it harder for small businesses to hire. Today’s ruling underscores the urgency of repealing this harmful law in its entirety. What Americans want is a common-sense, step-by-step approach to health care reform that will protect Americans’ access to the care they need, from the doctor they choose, at a lower cost. Republicans stand ready to work with a president who will listen to the people and will not repeat the mistakes that gave our country ObamaCare.”

From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

Nancy Pelosi “This decision is a victory for the American people. With this ruling, Americans will benefit from critical patient protections, lower costs for the middle class, more coverage for families, and greater accountability for the insurance industry.

“The Affordable Care Act is already paying dividends for millions of Americans – with more to come. Children can no longer be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions. Seniors are paying less for prescription drugs. Students and young adults can stay on their parents’ plans. Being a woman is no longer a pre-existing medical condition.”

“In passing health reform, we made history for our nation and progress for the American people. We completed the unfinished business of our society and strengthened the character of our country. We ensured health care would be a right for all, not a privilege for the few. Today, the Supreme Court affirmed our progress and protected that right, securing a future of health and economic security for the middle class and for every American.”

More, after the jump…
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Posted on Thursday, June 28th, 2012
Under: Anna Eshoo, Barbara Boxer, Barbara Lee, Dianne Feinstein, George Miller, healthcare reform, Jackie Speier, John Boehner, Lynn Woolsey, Mike Honda, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, Pete Stark, U.S. House, U.S. Senate, Zoe Lofgren | 2 Comments »

Foes target Boehner/Lungren event in Woodside

Liberal activists organized by CREDO SuperPAC are planning to protest outside a fundraiser that House Speaker John Boehner is holding Wednesday on Portola Road in Woodside with Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River.

The event with Boehner, R-Ohio, costs up to $35,000 a plate or $5,000 for a photo opportunity, and is occurring just six miles from the Atherton home in which President Obama is scheduled to hold a $35,800-a-plate fundraiser at about the same time.

CREDO SuperPAC says it has launched a campaign against Lungren with four full-time organizers and a Carmichael field office to mobilize local voters to defeat a congressman it calls “’California’s Rick Santorum,’ because of his stone-age views on women, and his extremist Tea Party values.” Lungren is challenged by Democrat Ami Bera of Elk Grove, Libertarian Art Tuma of Antelope, and independent Curt Taras of Folsom.

CREDO SuperPAC is running similar campaigns against nine other conservative Republican House members across the nation.

Posted on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Dan Lungren, John Boehner, U.S. House | 5 Comments »

Angry words over student loan interest bill

The House today voted 215-195 to pass HR 4628, which extends lower student-loan interest rates for a year by eliminating a preventative care fund created by President Obama’s health-care reform law.

The White House has threatened to veto the bill, but it won’t come to that: It’s dead on arrival in the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has advanced a plan to pay for extending the lower student-loan rates by levying taxes on those who make $250,000 or more per year from certain small “S corporations,” private businesses that don’t pay corporate taxes. House Democrats had wanted to pay for it by ending subsidies to oil and gas companies.

Here’s what Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, said on the House floor before today’s vote:

“Mr. Speaker, I’m here today to speak out against H.R. 4628, the so-called Interest Rate Reduction Act.

“It is clear to me that Republicans are not serious about addressing the student loan interest rate hikes, with this so-called Interest Rate Reduction Act. Their bill is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and would permanently end the Prevention and Public Health Fund, a key component of the Affordable Care Act that promotes wellness, prevents disease, and protects against public health emergencies.

“This prevention Fund is the first mandatory funding stream dedicated to improving public health – and it is extremely important in our fight to prevent chronic diseases, including HIV/AIDS, in Women’s health.

“This is such a sad and sinister ploy. Instead of pitting student loan relief for middle and low-income families against critical preventive services for middle and low-income families, we should be working toward real solutions. Instead of paying for subsidies to big oil, we should invest in our students, who are our future.

“This bill jeopardizes the health of our nation and it uses our students as pawns. And it is morally wrong. I hope we defeat this insincere proposal.”

After the vote, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio said:

“Students and families are struggling in President Obama’s economy. Nearly half of college graduates are unemployed or underemployed, and laws like ObamaCare have only made it harder for small businesses to hire them. That’s why House Republicans voted to extend current student loan rates and to pay for it by eliminating an ObamaCare slush fund President Obama himself proposed cutting from his budget. It’s time for the president and Democrats in Congress to stop exploiting the challenges facing young Americans for political gain, and start working with Republicans to create a better environment for private-sector job growth.”

But, from Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, the ranking Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee:

“Today’s vote shows that the Republicans are on very thin ice on this issue, barely being able to pass their bill, and by less than a majority of the House. They should join us now on a bill to lower the loan rates and pay for it in a way that does not harm middle class women and children.

“Republicans call the Prevention and Public Health Fund a ‘slush’ fund. That’s amazing. Breast and cervical cancer screenings are not things you pay for with a slush fund. You don’t immunize children from infectious disease with a slush fund. You want know what a slush fund is? A slush fund is the tax loophole Republicans are protecting for the five largest oil and gas companies making record profits. That’s a slush fund.”

Posted on Friday, April 27th, 2012
Under: Barbara Lee, education, George Miller, John Boehner, U.S. House | 5 Comments »

House members mourn Rep. Donald Payne, D-N.J.

Bay Area members of Congress are paying tribute to Rep. Donald Payne, D-N.J., who died today after battling colon cancer:

From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

Nancy Pelosi“Congressman Donald Payne was a leader of conscience and a public servant of diligence. He was admired by his colleagues; he earned respect around the world for his outspoken advocacy on behalf of human rights and the worth and dignity of every person.

“Congressman Payne spoke out on behalf of suffering people in some of the most difficult situations around the world: from Rwanda to Sudan to the peace process in Northern Ireland. It was a personal privilege to travel with Congressman Payne to Darfur; he was a leader in bringing attention to the genocide there. He was an expert on the political, economic, and security situation throughout the continent of Africa.

“I was proud to recognize Congressman Payne’s global advocacy by recommending that President George W. Bush name him a congressional delegate to the United Nations. His work here at home, especially on behalf of his constituents and America’s middle class families, was unwavering.

“I hope it is a comfort to those who loved Congressman Payne that so many grieve their loss and and are praying for them in this sad time.”

From Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, ranking member on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, of which Payne was also a senior member:

“I am heartbroken to learn of Congressman Payne’s passing. Donald served his constituents and this nation with honor, distinction and a deep sense of justice. He was an uncompromising voice on the committee for the disadvantaged and the powerless. He did his work with humility, and, when he spoke, people listened. He championed human rights and workers’ rights both here and around the world. Working people across the country could always count on Donald to stand up for them when it came to their health, safety and fair treatment on the job. As a former educator, he was a tireless advocate for all children and a strong champion of Head Start, giving countless children a better chance at a brighter future. Donald’s leadership and advocacy will be missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to Donald’s family, staff and constituents.”

From Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:

Barbara Lee (Dec-2010)“I am deeply saddened by the passing of my friend and colleague, Congressman Donald Payne, and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and to his constituents.

“Don was truly a world renowned leader. I had the privilege to serve under his brilliant leadership as the Senior Democratic member of the House International Relations Subcommittee on Africa. I also had the honor to work very closely with him in the legislative process addressing the global HIV/AIDS pandemic and addressing the genocide in Darfur both through our efforts to obtain an official declaration and through divestment legislation that was signed into law. His dedication to global health issues and Africa saved and improved the lives of many and inspired all of those around him. Today, Congress lost its best teacher on Africa.

“Don was also committed to the underserved in our society, and I benefited greatly from his tremendous wisdom, insight and counsel. As chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Don was a leader on education issues and fiercely dedicated to building stronger communities for our children. I will deeply miss Don, and believe that his legacy will inspire many to speak for the voiceless and stand up for justice across the globe.”

From House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio:

John Boehner“I was saddened to hear of Congressman Payne’s passing, and extend the prayers and condolences of the whole House to his family and his constituents. I had the privilege to serve with Don on the Education & the Workforce Committee, and admired his commitment to ensuring our children get the best quality education. As a leader on the Foreign Affairs Committee, he brought much-needed attention to public health and human rights issues in Africa and around the globe. Don was widely respected by his colleagues as a dedicated public servant, and will be dearly missed.”

Posted on Tuesday, March 6th, 2012
Under: Barbara Lee, George Miller, John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House | 8 Comments »

Stark helps lead move against ethanol subsidies

Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, helped spearhead a bipartisan letter sent today to House leaders urging them to let taxpayer-funded ethanol subsidies expire this year.

The letter was signed by 30 Democrats – including Stark, George Miller, Jackie Speier, Mike Honda and Zoe Lofgren – as well as by 37 Republicans, and was directed to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco.

Here’s the text:

As the first session of the 112th Congress comes to a close, we urge you to allow ethanol subsidies set to expire to do just that and to resist calls to expand or create new ethanol subsidies in the eleventh hour.

The ethanol industry has benefited from a tax credit incentivizing production, an import tariff shielding it from competition, and a renewable fuels mandate creating demand. Both the volumetric ethanol excise tax credit and the prohibitive import tariff are set to expire at the end of this year. These benefits were not permanent in nature for a reason. Congress anticipated the ethanol industry one day being sufficiently mature to stand on its own. It is difficult to make the argument that this day has not arrived. With widespread concern across a spectrum of issues including anti-hunger, fiscal, environmental, agricultural, good governance, and others, extending a billion dollar ethanol tax credit would appear out of the question and the prohibitive import tariff should be allowed to expire as well.

In addition, we urge you to oppose efforts to create new or expand existing subsidies that benefit the ethanol industry in the waning days of this session. For example, there has been the suggestion that the renewable fuels standard be revised to allow corn-based fuels to qualify as an advanced biofuel. Taxpayers deserve to have the future of federal ethanol policy fully vetted under regular order, an opportunity that is unlikely in the last days of the session.

Posted on Friday, December 9th, 2011
Under: Agriculture, energy, John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 2 Comments »

On the failure of the ‘Super Committee’

Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction co-chairs Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., acknowledged this afternoon that their “supercommittee” has failed, issuing this joint statement:

“After months of hard work and intense deliberations, we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee’s deadline.

“Despite our inability to bridge the committee’s significant differences, we end this process united in our belief that the nation’s fiscal crisis must be addressed and that we cannot leave it for the next generation to solve. We remain hopeful that Congress can build on this committee’s work and can find a way to tackle this issue in a way that works for the American people and our economy.

“We are deeply disappointed that we have been unable to come to a bipartisan deficit reduction agreement, but as we approach the uniquely American holiday of Thanksgiving, we want to express our appreciation to every member of this committee, each of whom came into the process committed to achieving a solution that has eluded many groups before us. Most importantly, we want to thank the American people for sharing thoughts and ideas and for providing support and good will as we worked to accomplish this difficult task.

“We would also like to thank our committee staff, in particular Staff Director Mark Prater and Deputy Staff Director Sarah Kuehl, as well as each committee member’s staff for the tremendous work they contributed to this effort. We would also like to express our sincere gratitude to Dr. Douglas Elmendorf and Mr. Thomas Barthold and their teams at the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation, respectively, for the technical support they provided to the committee and its members.”

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, responded:

“While I am disappointed, the House will forge ahead with the commitments we have made to reducing government spending and removing barriers standing in the way of private-sector job creation. Doing otherwise is not an option. This process did not end in the desired outcome, but it did bring our enormous fiscal challenges into greater focus. I am confident the work done by this committee will play a role in the solution we must eventually find as a nation.

“I commend both of the panel’s leaders, Jeb Hensarling and Patty Murray, for the dignified and statesmanlike manner in which the committee carried out its difficult negotiations. I want to particularly thank Jeb for the principled leadership and love of country he consistently has demonstrated in leading Republicans on the Joint Select Committee, as well as Dave Camp and Fred Upton for the countless hours they invested in this process for a noble cause.”

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, said today that President Obama had wanted a plan that was “big, bold and balanced” between spending cuts and revenue increases, but “from day one, (Senate Minority Leader) Mitch Mcconnell and the Republican leadership said they would not put new revenues on the table.”

Miller said he never had “a lot of confidence it would work, but it’s part of a process” and that process’ next part is sequestration – $1.2 trillion in automatically triggered cuts, about half in domestic spending and half in defense, to be implemented at the start of 2013. “Now the question is, are we going to keep our word?”

If anyone in Congress moves to diminish those cuts, he said, President Obama should veto the bill – exactly what the White House promised today. “This was a bargain we made with the public – not my favorite bargain, but it’s what we said we were going to do,” Miller said. “Now, I think the point is, we need to stand by that.”

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, on KQED’s Forum this morning said Republican intransigence is to blame.

“(T)he sticking point from the very beginning was the announcement of Republicans saying that they had signed a pledge with Grover Norquist, and that revenues and increases of taxes for certain income brackets were off the table,” she said. “On the Democratic side, it’s not true that we didn’t support reform to the entitlements, to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. What the Democrats opposed was stripping away the guarantee and simply going to a voucher system. What I’m struck by is that the message that goes out, if the Committee doesn’t come up with anything today, is a pox on everyone’s house, and that the Congress can’t accomplish anything.”

“Here we are a can-do nation, respected around the world, and everyone really shaking their heads and saying what’s wrong with them. I think it sends a bad message not only to our constituents, but also the markets as well during a very tenuous time when our economy is as fragile as it is,” Eshoo said. “It seems to me that this Grover Norquist pledge is trumping the pledge that we take when we are sworn in as Members of Congress.”

More from the Bay Area’s voices in Congress, after the jump…
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Posted on Monday, November 21st, 2011
Under: Anna Eshoo, Barbara Boxer, George Miller, John Boehner, Lynn Woolsey, Mike Honda, Pete Stark, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 3 Comments »

What they’re saying about the Iraq withdrawal

President Obama has announced that all U.S. troops except about 150 will be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of this year; the few remaining troops will protect the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and serve as trainers.

From Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney:

“President Obama’s astonishing failure to secure an orderly transition in Iraq has unnecessarily put at risk the victories that were won through the blood and sacrifice of thousands of American men and women. The unavoidable question is whether this decision is the result of a naked political calculation or simply sheer ineptitude in negotiations with the Iraqi government. The American people deserve to hear the recommendations that were made by our military commanders in Iraq.”

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

“I applaud President Obama for a promise kept. Today is a day to honor our troops and our military families who have sacrificed so much over the last nine years to give the Iraqi people a chance at a better future. It is now up to the Iraqis to secure their country and provide opportunity for all their people.”

From House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio:

“The continued drawdown of American troops that began under the previous administration wouldn’t be possible if not for the hard work and sacrifice of our service members, diplomats and their families. While on a congressional visit to Iraq this year, several lawmakers and I saw firsthand the progress our men and women in uniform had made. American forces not only freed Iraq from a vicious tyrant, but – under the strategy developed and implemented by our generals, and the leadership of both President Bush and President Obama – ended a violent terrorist insurgency that threatened the Iraqi people, and provided an opportunity for the Iraqi government to build the capacity needed to effectively meet the needs of the country.

“We must never forget the sacrifice of those who’ve served and all who will soon be making the journey home. And we owe it to them to continue engaging with the Iraqi government in a way that ensures our hard-fought gains translate into long-term success. While I’m concerned that a full withdrawal could jeopardize those gains, I’m hopeful that both countries will work together to guarantee that a free and democratic Iraq remains a strong and stable partner for the United States in the Middle East.

“We must also keep working to ensure our veterans have our full support as they return home to a tough economy. That’s why the House recently passed a bipartisan veterans hiring bill that provides training and assistance to unemployed veterans, and breaks down barriers preventing them from finding work.”

From Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont:

“I am happy to hear President Obama’s announcement that our troops will be completely withdrawn from Iraq by the end of this year. This is significant progress in the right direction. However, I am still concerned about the thousands of contractors who will continue to work in Iraq, and whether their continued presence constitutes a real withdrawal from the nation. While I hope the transition to a self-governing Iraq is a smooth one, I also hope for a true withdrawal of U.S. involvement.”

More, after the jump…
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Posted on Friday, October 21st, 2011
Under: Anna Eshoo, Barbara Boxer, Barbara Lee, Iraq, Jackie Speier, John Boehner, John Garamendi, Lynn Woolsey, Mitt Romney, Obama presidency, Pete Stark, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 4 Comments »

NLRB: Dems say toMAYto, Boehner says toMAHto

Ah, where would we be without all the glorious political rhetoric in Congress? What’s that, you say… “making actual progress?” Oh, but that would take all the fun out of it.

Today’s case in point: The House today voted 238-186 to pass HR 2587, the “Protecting Jobs From Government Interference Act.” The bill would limit the National Labor Relations Board’s authority by preventing the board from “ordering any employer to close, relocate, or transfer employment under any circumstance.” As the Washington Post puts it:

At the heart of the House measure is a months-long dispute over whether Boeing unlawfully retaliated against its union employees in Washington state by transferring a production facility to South Carolina after a series of strikes. The NLRB in April ruled that by moving the facility to a right-to-work state, Boeing was in violation of federal labor laws.

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, the Education and the Workforce Committee’s ranking Democrat, issued a news release saying the bill would remove the only meaningful legal remedy available to workers if a company illegally moves operations or eliminates work because workers engage in protected activities like forming a union or collective bargaining.

“The Republican bill sends a message to employers to retaliate against employees who may demand a piece of the American dream,” Miller said. “We should be working to create jobs, not send American jobs overseas. We should be working to strengthen the middle class, not tear it down. We should be working together to send the message that, during these most difficult economic times, Congress is on the side of the middle class.”

Miller said that under this bill, if a company closes an entire U.S. plant or part of a U.S. plant and moved the work to China because the U.S. employees organized a union, the NLRB no longer would have the power to order the work to be kept in or returned to the U.S. Republicans voted down an amendment that would have let the NLRB return jobs to America that were illegally sent overseas.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, spoke against the bill today on the House floor:

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, says… toMAHto!

“Today the House voted to remove another obstacle to private-sector job creation and long-term economic growth. This bill blocks the federal government’s National Labor Relations Board from telling businesses where they can and can’t create new jobs,” Boehner said. “It’s absurd that the federal government would stop American employers from creating new jobs here at home when millions are out of work and the unemployment rate exceeds nine percent. Under this Administration, American companies are free to create jobs in China but they aren’t free to create them in South Carolina. I’m hopeful that the Senate will join us in taking swift action, and help give American job creators the certainty they need to plan and put Americans back to work.”

Despite Boehner’s “hopeful” demeanor, the Democrat-dominated Senate is likely to kill the bill deader than a doornail.

Posted on Thursday, September 15th, 2011
Under: economy, George Miller, John Boehner, Labor politics, Lynn Woolsey, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 7 Comments »